Growing dissatisfaction with 'sick' air traffic controllers

Growing dissatisfaction with 'sick' air traffic controllers

The air cargo provider for Brussels and Liège airports has called for new measures to help combat strikes by the staff of air traffic control organisation Skeyes. Air Cargo Belgium (ACB) - linked to the Brussels air transport hub, BruCargo, and Liège airport - launched its appeal after another week of disrupted air traffic at night. During the strike Skeyes (former Belgocontrol) staff call in sick at the last minute to understaff the service, ultimately causing it to shut down.

The strike actions over the past few months, demanding more staff, have caused severe economic and reputation damage, and have even led the Flemish Mobility Minister, Ben Weyts (N-VA), to consider asking the military air traffic controllers to take over.

Serious consequences

The Skeyes' actions can potentially have a serious economic impact for carriers, especially regarding e-commerce, pharmaceutical and perishable goods transport, which requires a reliable logistics chain. 

"The logistics chain has become very flexible. Carriers are quick to find alternatives to avoid disruptions", says David Bellon, vice-president of the ACB.

Skeyes staff say they are under immense pressure and that there is not enough staff to provide air traffic control services in the country. Since March 1st, Air Transport hub BruCargo has seen its volume shrink by 12 %. At Liège airport, strikes affected more than 400 flights, of which 27 cancelled and ten deviated to other airports.

Liège airport is asking for the political world to step in. According to the airport management, the social conflict at Skeyes destabilises the logistics chain, jeopardising more than 10,000 jobs.

The Brussels Times/Belga

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